The story of entertaining angels points to a God who shows up in all bodies, especially in the unlikely ones. Jesus taught that when his disciples cared for the most vulnerable, they were caring for him. Likewise, this passage calls us to pay attention to the marginalized, as well as to the leaders. But what if the marginalized are our leaders? What if we looked to those in prison as teachers on grace? What if immigrants detained at the border or arrested in front of their children are the ones to teach us about liberation? What if those who suffer because of current laws are the ones to teach us about collective power that brings real change?
Strangers first taught me about the power of stories, organizing, and justice. While in seminary, I attended a meeting where undocumented Mexican women on strike from a tortilla factory shared the details of injustice in their workplace—low wages, no benefits, seniority structures ignored. Their raised sleeves displayed burns caused by operating machines without adequate safety equipment. I visited them later on the picket line, and we huddled around a heater in a blanket tent, sipping steaming hot chocolate. We stood outside in the snow, chanting, then praying. One woman was so moved by the Spirit that she fell on the frozen ground, flakes collecting on her back. These women were my first teachers in the immigrant rights movement. They are still my leaders.
Mutual love requires holding space for others to be fully who they are and to make effort to be fully who we are. It means acknowledging privilege and allowing Jesus to show up and lead us through the unlikeliest people. Is not this our Christian vocation?
God, give us courage to seek you out in the unlikely places and in the unlikely people, and help us open our ears to your leadership through them. Amen.
The admonition in Hebrews 13 “to show hospitality to strangers” is vividly illustrated by Jesus’ advice to guests and hosts in Luke 14. In the topsy-turvy world of divine hospitality, everybody is family. Radical hospitality makes sense only in light of the conviction that God rules the world and therefore adequate repayment for our efforts is simply our relatedness to God and our conformity to what God intends. The texts from Jeremiah and the psalm call the people of God back to commitment to God alone, rather than to the gods of the nations and their values. God is no doubt still lamenting our failure to listen but is also, no doubt, still inviting us to take our humble place at a table that promises exaltation on a scale the world cannot even imagine.
• Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom or where do you go to ll your cup with living water?
• Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. What shape does God’s bread and honey take in your life? Where are you being invited to open your mouth and to name the gift as sacred?
• Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you offer hospitality to those closest to you?
• Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. When have you been blessed by a party of mis ts? How can you extend the table?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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